Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blind as a Bat, I Tell You!

Got back about an hour ago from my eye appt. My eyeballs are still dilated, so while I can see somewhat clearly in the middle of my focus, anything on the periphery is still blurry. Driving was fine, thanks.

So soon I shall have new glasses. I'm debating contacts. I don't think my insurance covers them, and I only want to wear them maybe half a dozen times a year. Too bad they don't make cheap-o OTC versions you can buy at gas stations, like you can reading glasses.

In other news, the book is DONE! Well, I've signed off on everything at least. I'll get a bound proof copy from the printer, and once that's approved I'll be ready for the road. And with new glasses, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Without My Glasses, I’m Blind Like Velma

I’m getting coffee going this morning and doing some dishes. I turn my head and POP -- my right lens flies away from my head and clatters under the kitchen counter. My glasses!

Understand I have practically no tools, certainly nothing delicate enough to repair my false eyeballs. I’ve a loverly cordless drill and circular saw (a matched set, no less) and some random screwdrivers, Gerber tools, and Leathermen -- but nothing as helpful as one of those teeny eyeglasses repair kits everyone and his brother has.

So after some internal, coffee-less whinging, I grabbed the nearest Swiss Army knife (yes, I have several, in various sizes; and yes, my addled Morning Brain knew exactly where they were -- actually the one on my keychain was just the right size) and set to work. It took a good fifteen minutes but fortunately, the screw did not shear off; it just needed re-screwed. I had to use the edge of the li’l Swiss Army tweezers, but never let it be said that those things are pointless additions. (They also make great roach clips, so I’m told.) The plastic toothpick thingie is another matter.

I have had “New Glasses” on my to-do list for about 8 months now. My prescription is over 5 years old and, obviously, my glasses are starting to fall apart. Plus, they have lots of that tasty green-gray sweat-scum the crevices of eyeglasses are known to collect. My head is greasy and don’t let no one tell you different.

So this was my wake-up call to GET NEW GLASSES, DUDE! I think I’m going to try wearing contacts on a regular basis again, too. Since I do so much reading and computer work, it’s nice to be able to remove my peepers at a moment’s notice, ball up a fist, and rub-rub-rub my pain away. Can’t really do that with contacts; not satisfactorily anyway. But I certainly am prettier (and have better peripheral vision) when I’m not all four-eyed.

Speaking of birds, a woodpecker has discovered the buffet! I’ve been hearing his “churr-churr-churr”-ing and “chuck-chuck-chuck”-ing for some time and thought I saw his handiwork in the tops of some hickories next door. Glad to see him join the party. And about time, too. I need to get more seed before the feeder runs out and I have a Hitchcockian encounter trying to get out of my house.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Didn't I say I wasn't all that into gender studies?

Regardless, I flew through Self-Made Man (see info below) and found the whole book engrossing. I won't spoil it but the ending surprised me. And even though it came to me via a lesbian passing as a man infiltrating some of the few exclusively men-only institutions left in America (bowling league, strip joint, monastery, men's Iron John-style empowerment group), I think I discovered a few things about my gender, and therefore myself.

Ahem. *in my best Cartman voice* I learned something today, Kyle. I communicate very well, even though my style (verbal and/or written) is not always adequate for others, male and/or female. And just because I'm "just a guy" does not mean I can't feel put upon or that my gender doesn't have it rough sometimes, too. Norah Vincent said she felt "trapped" as a man, even more so than as a women. Codes of conduct exist for both sexes, but it is generally unacceptable for men to bitch about it, at least openly, and defintely not to other men. And what woman wants to hear that kind of sissy, uninformed, non-feminist crap from a guy, am I right?

I also saw Brokeback Mountain recently, which my date wanted to see more than I did, but I was game. I did want to see it but figured I wouldn't catch it on a big screen. It was worth it for the scenery (big-sky country of Wyoming), but what a story! I want to dig up the original book by Annie Proulx.

Forbidden love stories get me every time. I can see why some people have latched onto this movie as some kind of watershed moment in moviemaking about gays. The emotional attachment of these guys is so strong and yet physically they aren't very tender at all. In fact, they're pretty rough with each other in and out of the sack. These are not your stereotypical 24-hour-party-people gays, effeminate, clubbing, artistic, misunderstood, tragically hip. They are men, through and through -- cowboys even -- with all the baggage that entails, gay or straight. They just happen to love each other, in a time when they simply could not express it openly in any way -- often even to each other. Man, good film! I'd love to see Heath Ledger get an Oscar for it. His portrayal of a steely eyed, tight-lipped cowboy was spot-on.

And no, there was no pudding eating going on.

Lastly, I saw The Housewives of Mannheim (yes, just like the Vermeer painting) last night at the BPP. Good play! It's set in Flatbush, NY, in 1944. Two women (and their two friends) deal with life without their soldier husbands. Questions, unwanted answers, unfulfilled desires, and some amount of desperation: can't really say more without ruining it but I nearly cried at the very end, and hubba hubba Joanne Dubach!

Don't worry, folks. My identity is entact. But I did find all of these works to be fascinating, especially since, well, I'm generally not into gender study stuff.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Everyone knows what's in Room 101....

Good morning, Big Bro.
So nice of you to take notice.

Monday, February 06, 2006

"No One Mourns the Wicked"

I saw the Bloomington Youth Players production of Wicked at the JWAC last night. It's essentially the back story of Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. A pretty interesting take on the tale. The authors of the play allowed the kids to do a production of it free of charge provided it was a student project and they charged no admission. Let me say up front, I'm glad I did not pay to get in. I didn't have huge expectations or anything, but those were some pretty untrained voices and clumsy "choreography." I'll be polite and say the show had a truly Brechtian aesthetic.

For a student production, though (directed and starring teens and pre-teens), it was pretty good, although there were practically no sets and only piano accompaniment. I would love to see and "adult" version. The story got a little muddy, but I think that had to do with the delivery of the lines: everyone spokeveryquickly? Inthatwayteensdo? Shortcontrolledbursts? Andasifeverylinewereaquestion? And it is not a kids' play; not so much because of the content but because the phrasing of the songs is quite complicated, in that neo-Broadway "let's shove as many words into each line of the song as possible" way, which I truly hate. It's just silly.

And one of the leads, the one playing Glinda -- OMG! All of thirteen years old but boy could she belt it out. Also, tall, blonde, and with a real stage presence. I heard through the grapevine that the play was a real family affair: the lead's father and mother were largely responsible for bringing it to the stage, and I think she also had a brother in the cast as well. But she was great and I'm betting she's being groomed for a future in theatre.

After the show I caught the last minutes of the Super Bowel at the Trojan Horse. Talk about a culture clash there. I didn't even know it was Super Bowel Sundae! Dahlink, I vas at ze thea-tah instead.

Friday, February 03, 2006

It’s Coming!

Soon I shall be back among you hipsters of the twenty-first century. My spiffy new Dell laptop (Inspiron 9300 to be precise, with more bells and whistles than you can shake and blow) is on the way!

For the past six months, other than at-work or library access, my computer has looked something like this:

Actually I’ve enjoyed the break from at-home computing (and I've loved getting reacquainted with my massive fleet of manual typewriters -- my old pals!). But it’s hard to make OT when you have to do it in the office, and I’ve got some freelance gigs that I’ve had to wrangle around my usual office hours. Indeed, my latest job (typesetting and designing a chapbook for a fellow poet) sort of spurred me to break down and get another Infernal Machine.

In short, I'm thrilled. Commencing UPS tracking procedures....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Domo arigato, Mr. Tarantino

I flirted with the notion of listening (no TV reception) to the State of the Union Address, but figured I'd hear most of it in its intended form -- i.e., soundbites, prattle, and random hrumph-hrumphing -- in the subsequent hours, days, weeks, etc., ad nauseam intinifum.

Instead I opted to watch Kill Bill Vol. 1 again for about the 14th time. It still rocks and I think I am a better person because of this choice. The anime section still gets me right here (I'm pointing to my heart, folks) and I still love O-ren Ishii's post-beheading speech whilst standing barefoot on the boardroom table. Now that's how a SotUA oughta end ... with the blood of your enemy spewing forth in a warm fountain while you wax bad-ass to the mo-fos sitting shocked around your table. No fakey-fake pretense of sanity and decorm, just brute force and bloodlust. Hey, at least it'd be honest. And there is a war on, you know.

Just before bed, I did catch about fifteen minutes of post-SotUA commentary on NPR. Ugh! They were kvetching about how the Democratic responder had to speechify to an empty room whilst standing in front of a not-so-impressive fireplace, while Chimpy McFlightsuit got to grandstand in front of his congressional concubines and anyone wearing a T-shirt got hustled outta there fast. This apparently gave shrub an advantage, although I think it merely enhances his dorkitude and underscores the presidential BJ policy of our two-party system. Just let him give his li'l speechy-poo and get it over with. Stop applauding all the time, idiots! God, politics is lame. I definitely voted my conscience with my viewing choice that night.

"I'm going to say this in English so you know how serious I am. As your leader, I encourage you to -- from time to time and always in a respectful manner, and with the complete knowledge that my decision is final -- to question my logic. If you're unconvinced a particular plan of action I've decided is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you. And I will promise you, right here and now, no subject will be taboo ... except the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or my American heritage as a negative is, I collect your fuckin' head. Just like this fucker here.

Now if any of you sonsabitches got anything else to say, now's the fuckin’ time!

I didn't think so. Meeting adjourned."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Drag Kings and Skin Tags

One of the oddest birthday presents I’ve ever received was a new book by Norah Vincent called Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back. She is a lesbian and she quit her job writing for the L.A. Times in order to research a book about her year as a man (Ned). No operations or hormones. She’s not a transvestite, just a writer with some hardcore tomboy experiences in her past, so she decided to write about her experiences for a year “as a man,” using only costumes, makeup, and voice and movement coaching from both theatre professionals and “regular guys.”

No, not exactly high on my must-read list, and not particularly my cup of meat either. Besides, I edit and proofread for a living, so reading for pleasure takes more work than it used to, unless it’s poetry, which is so different from work that I do find it pleasurable -- plus my own aspirations get tangled up in there, so it almost feels like research of my own.

Anyway, Self-Made Man is a good read and I’ve had trouble putting it down. She didn’t take on the project to uncover what pigs men are (plenty of “literature” out there on that already ... oink!) and she did not go at it from some kind of eighth-wave feminist angle to show how lame neo-po-mo women are. She’s a reporter researching a story, and she harps on both sexes pretty equally, but fairly. She takes swipes at herself, too, when she catches herself being a dork, and eventually comes to a greater understanding about sex, gender, and identity. So far she has expounded on titty bars and dating, and it’s been fascinating to read about her observations of both. If you’re into gender stuff at all, I recommend it.

I also, as I myself am starting to date again, found her dating experiences ... startlingly helpful. What does a lesbian passing as a man think about a woman who is attracted to her but only as a man? How does that dynamic play out over the course of two or three dates? Really good stuff. Not that I’m taking notes or anything. It’s just interesting to read an analysis of a date from that perspective. And she ultimately reveals herself to the people she interacts with, and continues to interact with them, which is equally fascinating. The men’s bowling league she joined, for example, just continued to treat her like one of the guys (she is, after all, a lesbian), even though she was a shitty bowler. That group was her entry point to the titty bar chapter, and I think later in the book she even joins a monastery(!).


The other morning, my shirt kept catching on something on my neck. A scab, I thought, until I look in the mirror and see that it’s a skin tag, a little flesh-tone bump, on my collarbone. We’re talking the size of half a sliver of fingernail. Tiny but annoying. Whilst in the shower, I grab it and rip it off, and when I get out there’s blood running down my chest! Cripes, I’m bleeding like a stuck pig! Oink! So I apply a Band-aid and go to work. Later that night ... I peel off the Band-aid and Christ on toast! That smarts! Then the area where the sticky stuff on the bandage was gets all rashy, then scabs up, and part of it even bubbles up like a second-degree burn. Jeez Louise! I’m a sensitive guy but come on; I’m bruising like a grape here!

So now I’ve got a wound that looks like I was attacked by a vampire smoking a cigar, splashed holy water on her, and some gooey ichor dripped on me causing the burn. At least that’s what I’m going to tell my date on Friday! Yeah, that’s right. I’m disfigured just in time for it. Or maybe that story’s too geeky. Maybe I’ll say I was spot-welding a new keel on my 24-foot sloop and some sparks caught me just below the jugular. I then can shrug off her concern and look away disinterestedly. No? Maybe I was building a Habitat for Humanity house and got a little crazy with the roof tar. Or maybe it’ll just heal by then. Yeah, healing is sexy, baby!